Amancio Amaro, the Galician wizardWhen we talk about football legends, the names that come to mind are many: Maradona, Pelé, Cruyff, Ronaldo, Beckenbauer, etc., and as the years go by, some names are added and others remain in the past as the generations of fans continue to pass. For this reason, when we review the history of football, we find some players who were great icons of this sport and who today, perhaps, are not often mentioned.
The protagonist of this article was a great player, with outstanding ability and a knack for doing things with the ball that few could do, in addition to being considered a legend at Real Madrid, which is saying enough considering all the great players who have worn the white shirt. Next, we are going to talk about the career of Amancio Amaro, the Galician wizard who became a Real Madrid legend.
Santiago Bernabéu stadium - named after the president who took Amancio to Real Madrid
The beginningOriginally from La Coruña, Amancio was born on October 16th, 1939 and at the age of 15 he began his career as a footballer at Victoria CF, a club from the municipality of A Coruña, from where he would make the leap to Deportivo La Coruña four years later. The Galician club was in the Second Division at that time and Amancio quickly became the star of the team with which he had progressive growth. In his fourth season with Depor, Amancio scored 27 goals in 28 games, of which 25 were scored in 26 Second Division games, which gave him the Pichichi award (top scorer) and translated into great help for that Deportivo La Coruña achieved promotion to the First Division.
Real MadridIn 1962, Deportivo began to receive approaches and offers from various important clubs for its star, and FC Barcelona seemed to be the closest to finalizing the transfer, although the financial claims of the Galician club were high and this delayed the negotiations. Real Madrid (which at that time was at the end of the Di Stefano era) had come off from a period of triumphs but also had significant debts.
Santiago Bernabéu, president of the Madrid club, was working on renewing the team and, at the same time, on improving finances and that is why the Real Madrid board of directors voted against the signing of Amancio because Depor was asking for a figure that was slightly higher than a fifth of the total debt of the Madrid club. Against that vote and of its own free will, Bernabéu closed the signing of Amancio for an amount close to 12 million pesetas plus several players.
Manager Miguel Muñoz began to use Amancio with Puskas as forwards, delaying Di Stefano's position, a strategy that allowed him to strengthen the team's attack and give the Galician greater importance. In 1964, Real Madrid reached the final of the European Cup, their seventh in the nine editions that had been played up to that date. The rival was Inter Milan, who with two goals from Sandro Mazzola managed to beat the Madrid club 3-1.
That same 1964, the Euros were also played, which had Spain as the organizing country and as champion. Amancio together with another Galician, Luis Suarez, were two of the main figures of the tournament where in the semifinals they prevailed in extra time against Hungary with a goal from Amancio in minute 112 and in the final they beat the Soviet Union 2-1 with a goal by Marcelino Martínez in the 84th minute.
That Marcelino goal had Amancio as the protagonist but not only in reality, since the government of the dictator Francisco Franco used that goal as a form of publicity. The images show a cross from Amancio that was headed by Marcelino, but the cross was really Pereda's. The detail was that they did not have the complete recording of Marcelino's goal, only the shooting and they took a cross from Amancio to complete the images. In that 1964, he was third in the Ballon d'Or, only behind his compatriot Luis Suarez and the winner of that year, the Scotsman Dennis Law.
Two years later, Amancio would once again reach a European Cup final with Real Madrid, this time against Partizan. The Belgrade team took the lead with a goal from Vasovic, but Real Madrid, as has happened many times in the history of the European Cup, came back from behind with a goal from Amancio in the 70th minute and another from Serena in the 76 to win 2-1 and take their sixth European Cup. The passing of the seasons saw how the members of Di Stefano's great Real Madrid gradually handed over to Amancio's generation so that they would be recognized on their own merits as the Ye-Yé team.
That team, led by Amancio, won 6 Spanish leagues in 7 years, curiously, beginning with the arrival of the Galician at the Madrid club. Additionally, Amancio won the Pichichi award on two consecutive occasions in the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons, in which he reached his best goalscoring records during his time as a First Division player. In 1971, during a match between Granada and Real Madrid, there was a brawl in which Amancio came out to defend one of his teammates and pushed Fernández, a player from the Nazarí team. Three years later, in another match between the two teams, Fernández would take revenge on Amancio, giving him a kick that would break the Galician's quadriceps, marking the beginning of the end of the Madrid player's professional career.
Life after the playerIn 1976, Amancio would retire from professional football and begin his stage as a coach in the youth teams of Real Madrid and in 1982 he would train Castilla, the main subsidiary of the Madrid club's academy, where he would coincide with a generation that later became known as the Quinta del Buitre, the next great Real Madrid team after the Ye-Yé, led by Amancio himself. A couple of years later, he would train the first team, although without much luck. In 2000, he became part of the Real Madrid board of directors and in 2022, after the death of Paco Gento, the honorary President of the club until his death in 2023.
One of the best Galician players in history (perhaps the best) and a Real Madrid legend, which is saying a lot that, among other things, he was one of the first to give greatness to the number 7 of the club that would later wear great stars like Raúl or Cristiano Ronaldo.